Invest in the Global Fund, Invest in Better Health

09/17/2010 11:22 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Michel D. Kazatchkine UN Secretary General‘s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

We are at a defining moment in the struggle against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- killers that claim 5 million lives each year. To date, the world has made dramatic advances in the fight against these global threats, but what we choose to do this year could mean the difference between a promise realized and an opportunity squandered.

Next week, world leaders will attend a summit meeting in New York to discuss progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, critical milestones in health and development. In the eight years that I've been involved with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- since its inception -- I've seen incredible progress toward fulfilling these goals. For example, we have gone from almost no one in the developing world on AIDS medication in 2000 to 5 million people receiving treatment today, including 2.8 million who receive treatment from the Global Fund. We've made such progress, in fact, that by 2015 it is possible to ensure that virtually no child is born with HIV. This is not a far-fetched idea; it is firmly within our grasp if we continue our strong support of AIDS programs.

Ending malaria as a public health problem is also possible within the next five years, and the Global Fund is at the forefront of these efforts too. The Global Fund is responsible for more than 60% of worldwide malaria funding, and we've financed the distribution of more than 122 million insecticide-treated nets so that families -- particularly young children, who are especially susceptible to malaria -- can sleep safe from mosquitoes.

As someone who's devoted his life to improving health, I've seen what is possible. Ending transmission of HIV from a mother to her child in every part of the world is possible, and so is ridding the world of malaria. I've also seen what can happen when diseases are allowed to adapt and strengthen their foothold.

Renewing our commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals is especially important in this time of economic recession, when widening inequities threaten the health of so many. We can either build on past successes and meet our goal of improved health for all, or we can begin to stall and backslide, losing our momentum.

Our remarkable accomplishments are in part due to U.S. investment. Indeed, the U.S. is the largest single donor to the Global Fund -- and for every $1 the U.S. contributes, the Global Fund leverages more than $2 from other countries.

On October 5, the Global Fund will ask donor countries for three-year funding pledges in the fight for better health around the world. If the U.S.'s commitment to the Global Fund is strong this fall, more countries will follow this lead and we can make significant advances in health around the world.

I am proud to have been a part of what the Global Fund has helped achieve in the past eight years, and I am truly hopeful for what we can accomplish in the few years ahead. But next week's Millennium Development Goals Summit, and the Global Fund's three-year pledge meeting that follows it, will be pivotal moments in the future of global health. We cannot afford the cost -- in lives or in dollars -- of losing the momentum we have built. The Global Fund needs the support of its major donors now, more than ever.